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Data Collection Methods

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Bufflehead photo by NP photo © Natures Pics

Preface to Monitoring

Why do we need to monitor?

  • To learn about our environment
  • To create a baseline from which we can assess changes
  • To see if our restoration efforts are working
  • To see if things are getting worse or staying the same
  • To meet EPA's State Continuing Planning Process in which the public must be be involved in water quality monitoring.

Monitoring is a systematic measurement of specified parameters of a waterbody to determine the health of the water body. It is similar to the way a doctor can assess the health of your body by checking your temperature, glands, and the chemical balance of your fluids. You can check the health of an estuary, wetland or river by looking at chemical, biological or physical parameters.

Develop a Monitoring Plan

Developing a monitoring plan is one of the most important steps in your whole monitoring effort. Your plan will consider why you want to monitor and what questions you hope to answer, how to collect data, who will do the data collection, recording, and storage, what parameters you wish to measure, where you will collect your samples, and when you will do your sampling.

Monitoring Standards

If you intend to compare or coordinate monitoring results, it is essential that your monitoring be standardized, that is, follow the exact same procedures as other researchers. Different monitoring techniques may yield slightly different results. Always follow directions exactly to be sure your techniques match other's as closely as possible. For more detailed information, see

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